A Kentucky couple who were at the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in Washington, D.C., have pleaded guilty to participating and face a maximum punishment of six months in prison, according to federal court records filed Tuesday.
Thomas and Lori Vinson, who were arrested on Feb. 23 and charged with participating in the riot and other related crimes, have each pleaded guilty to one count of parading, demonstrating, or picketing in a Capitol Building, according to plea agreements filed in federal court. In addition to a maximum prison time of six months, the two defendants could also face a fine of up to $5,000.
The Vinsons have each agreed to pay $500 in restitution after admitting to participating in the riot, which caused more than $1.4 million worth of damage to the U.S. Capitol, according to court records.
Lori Vinson is a nurse who made headlines nationally when she admitted going into the Capitol during the riot and was fired for it. Of the riot, she said she “would do it again tomorrow.” She had been working at Ascension St. Vincent hospital in Evansville, Ind., when she was fired.
She told WZTV in Nashville, “The doors were open, people were filing through, there were no signs that said, ‘Do not enter’ and “there were no cops saying ‘Don’t come in.’” Many videos have since shown the violence officers endured at various locations inside and outside the Capitol.
In an affidavit filed in court, a special agent with the FBI wrote about an interview with the Vinsons two days after the riot. The FBI had received a tip from a Vinson Facebook friend.
“Lori Vinson indicated that she and Thomas Vinson attended a rally near the White House lawn and walked straight to the U.S. Capitol, up the steps, and straight through the door, following a steam of people inside,” he wrote in a court document. “Lori Vinson denied they were waiting outside for someone to break down the doors or windows to get in.”
The agent said Lori Vinson told him that the couple decided to leave after they saw “a person hitting a door with U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s name on it with a crowd control stanchion three times.”
“Thomas Vinson said they went to the Capitol as a ‘peaceful bunch of people there to express their views to Congress…,’ describing their conduct mainly as chanting and talking. According to the Vinsons, they did not damage or take anything.”
In a later interview with the FBI, Vinson claimed she didn’t know Congress was in session even though she acknowledged “there was something going on related to the certification of the electoral votes on Jan. 6.” She also said she didn’t hear the Capitol building alarms.